When most people think of orthodontics, they automatically imagine teenagers with a mouth full of metal. But as Dr. Chad Carver and the team at Stellar Family Orthodontics in Mukilteo and Mill Creek, Washington, know, that’s not always the case.
Interceptive orthodontics specifically target children between the ages of 6 and 11. While early childhood may seem too young for orthodontic treatment, it’s sometimes necessary. Early orthodontics can ensure that your child’s teeth and jaw develop as they should.
Before you consider whether interceptive orthodontics are right for your child, let’s discuss what this early interventional treatment is and how it can improve your little one’s smile for years to come.
What are interceptive orthodontics?
Also called phase 1 orthodontics, interceptive orthodontics intervene in jaw and tooth alignment problems that may worsen as your child grows. While braces typically correct orthodontic issues in tweens and teens, some problems are simply too severe to correct without early intervention.
Why would my child need interceptive orthodontics?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every child see an orthodontist for a full evaluation by the age of 7. Having your little one assessed for orthodontics at an early age ensures that Dr. Carver can help prevent potentially serious dental problems in the future.
Common reasons Dr. Carver may recommend interceptive orthodontics include:
A crowded mouth happens when your child has too many teeth in their mouth or their mouth is too small to support their incoming teeth. To correct this problem as early as possible, Dr. Carver and his team expand their arches or perform tooth extractions.
Protruding front teeth
If your child has mismatched jaws, tongue thrusting, or a thumb-sucking habit, their two front teeth can start protruding over their bottom teeth. This is more than a simple cosmetic concern. Protruding front teeth can drastically change your child’s bite, increasing their risk of additional tooth alignment issues.
There are many treatments for protruding front teeth, including bite corrector appliances, braces, Invisalign® First, or a special retainer. Not only do these treatments improve the appearance of your child’s teeth, they also help prevent tooth damage and speech impediments.
An overbite occurs when your child’s top front teeth overlap their bottom teeth. Failing to treat an overbite can result in chronic jaw pain, speech impediments, and tooth damage.
While Dr. Carver and the team at Stellar Family Orthodontics can’t fully correct an overbite until your child’s jaw has stopped growing, custom-made appliances can help relieve these problems until they’re old enough for additional orthodontic therapy.
Underbites happen when your child’s bottom front teeth cross over their top front teeth. They’re less common than overbites and more difficult to treat. That’s why early intervention is crucial for treating an underbite.
One of the most common treatments for underbites in children is what orthodontists call “jumping the bite.” This treatment involves a combination of braces and other appliances to realign your little one’s bite while their jaw is still growing. Braces during childhood can help reduce your child’s chances of needing jaw surgery when they’re older.
Why are interceptive orthodontics important?
The reason orthodontists recommend braces and other orthodontic treatments after adolescence is that your child’s jaw stops growing around the age of 13. Correcting small orthodontic issues, such as crooked teeth or a small overbite, during early childhood doesn’t make much sense when your child’s jaw is still malleable.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case if your child has severe orthodontic problems that are expected to worsen with time. Without interceptive orthodontics, your child is more likely to experience additional dental issues later in life, such as:
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Jaw pain
- Speech impediment
- Chewing issues
- Tooth loss
If you think your child might benefit from interceptive orthodontics, call Stellar Family Orthodontics or book an appointment online for a free consultation!